The Southside Together Organizing for Power coalition used the final
City Council meeting of the year Wednesday to pillory Rahm Emanuel and
the City Council for closing down six of the city’s twelve mental health
clinics. The City Council passed the 2012 budget 50-0 last month, a budget that will shutter the clinics as well as privatize seven health centers and lay off 155 city health workers.
STOP protesters sang, “Holiday carols to save our clinics” outside of City Council chambers. For example, to the tune of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, two-dozen or so protesters belted out, “Mayor Emanuel’s budget/Wants to make our clinics close/All of the City Council/Shrugs and says, ‘That’s how it goes.’”
Here's more from the carolers:
Protesters invoked news from Springfield yesterday
that a $371 million tax break package, much of it for CME Group, Inc.
financial exchange and Sears Holding Corp., passed the General Assembly.
Both CME and Sears threatened to leave Illinois without a tax break,
and Emanuel (and Gov. Pat Quinn) worked with state legislators to get a
bill passed after several failed attempts.
“Closing these clinics saves the city only around a couple of million dollars,” points out STOP volunteer Dan Boris, who played “Rahm Emanuel the Grinch” during the protest. “That’s not much money when you think about the front page of the Tribune where they are giving millions and millions of dollars to CME.” CME will get $85 million in tax breaks.
Trina Carpenter, a senior at Chicago State University, says that her family has had a history of mental health trouble and that the mental health clinic she goes to, Beverly Morgan Park on the far southwest side, faces closure.
“I’ve been part of a movement since 2007,” Carpenter says. “My brother has a college degree, but he suffers from mental depression. We need our clinics.”
STOP plans to work with 12th ward Ald. George Cardenas, chairman of the health committee. “Ald. Cardenas will hopefully hold a hearing as soon as possible so we can look over the facts of the cuts,” Boris says. Boris wants Cardenas and other aldermen to sponsor an amendment that would undo many of the health cuts.
Inside council chambers, aldermen passed a measure where the city will pay $3.9 million total in four police misconduct cases.
Also, aldermen and Rahm Emanuel teed off on a federal lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency against Chicago’s new Vacant Property Ordinance. Under the ordinance, mortgage agencies including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which are part of FHFA – have to register vacant buildings with the city and maintain these properties. FHFA wants Chicago’s about 250,000 Fannie and Freddie properties exempt.
And Emanuel introduced a series of measures tailored for May’s NATO and G-8 summits – and the all but certain large-scale protests of these summits. These include a dramatic increase in fines for anyone resisting or obstructing law enforcement.
One matter the City Council did not talk about (besides the city’s public health budget) is the contentious remap of the 50 wards based on 2010 U.S. Census figures. Aldermen were scheduled to agree on a map by December ,1 but the council’s rules committee has yet to approve new ward boundaries. Emanuel has so far begged off involvement in the remap process.